Award-winning author who broke barriers for female authors of color.
June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006
As an African American woman, Octavia Butler broke numerous barriers with her extraordinary fiction, emerging at a time when few writers of color could be found in the field.
Butler produced two major series. The five-volume Patternist series (1976–1984) tells of a society that is run by a specially bred group of telepaths. Her Lilith’s Brood trilogy (1987–2000) deals with the destruction of humanity by nuclear war and gene-swapping extraterrestrials. The stand-alone book Kindred (2009) relocates a present-day black woman to a pre-Civil War plantation through time travel.
Butler’s later novels, Nebula Award-nominated Parable of the Sower (1993) and Nebula Award-winning Parable of the Talents (1998), form a diptych of a dystopian near-future America, seen through the eyes of Lauren Olamina, a black woman with psychic powers, and her daughter Larkin.
In 1995 Octavia Butler was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for pushing the boundaries of science fiction. In 2000, she received the PEN Center West Lifetime Achievement Award.